As AI begins to slowly infect our subconscious, it can be hard to distinguish what is real and what is just a fake version of Tom Hanks trying to sell you dental implants. Robin Williams’ daughter Zelda recently entered the conversation, explaining just how daunting the concept is for actors and industry professionals.
So when Williams’ Genie showed up in a brand-new short from Disney, people got a little nervous that the Big Mouse was using Williams’ likeness without the permission of the estate, when in reality, they had simply used some Aladdin outtakes.
Once Upon A Studio is Disney+’s short made to celebrate the studio’s 100 years in the industry, and several of Disney’s most iconic characters re-appeared, including Genie. Producer Producer Bradford Simonsen said that they asked Williams estate beforehand.
“We tried to take them on the journey with us to say, ‘We’ve got this very special short that we’re doing. Robin as the genie means so much to so many people and we would really love to involve him,’” he explained to Variety. “So [director] Dan [Abraham] listened to the outtakes from the original recording and he found those little bites that we could use. We went back to the estate and said, ‘This is what we hope to do.’” Genie’s oneliner was added to the nine-minute short, along with a shot of him fixing Olaf from melting. That little dude is always melting.
Even though Disney has the technology to make anyone say anything, it was nice that they chose not to go the AI route. Others cannot say the same.